The San Francisco 49ers take on the Carolina Panthers this Sunday at 10am pacific looking to earn their second win of the season. If the 49ers can pull out the win it would be their first winning streak since the last two weeks of last season (if you want to call two consecutive wins a "streak."). Furthermore, it would be an opportunity to build on the momentum of last week's win against the Raiders. The 49ers currently sit 2.5 games out of first place in the NFC West, with an opportunity to gain ground on at least one of the teams in front of them (Seattle hosts Arizona).
The 49ers face a Carolina Panthers squad that currently sits at 0-5 and is looking for something to build on, much like the 49ers heading into last week's game with the Raiders. Much like the 49ers, the Panthers have dealt with a fairly tough schedule. Additionally they have QB issues as they attempt to figure out what they have with Jimmy Clausen, while deciding to send out Matt Moore to start on Sunday. The Panthers QBs have been fairly abysmal as they have a combined QB rating of 43.6. QB rating is a bit of an overrated stat, but a number that low is hard to explain away. Clausen and Moore have combined for a 45.3% completion percentage with three touchdowns and nine interceptions. All in all it's not pretty.
The Panthers do have some upside heading into this game. First, they're getting Steve Smith back for the first time in a few weeks. While the QBs are struggling, Steve Smith gives them a puncher's chance to make a big play. He hasn't played since week four, but he provides some big play potential. Second, the Panthers have their running back duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. They haven't been spectacular, but much of that can be due to the woes of the entire offense.
The 49ers find themselves at the beginning of a long ten day road trip that takes them from San Francisco to Charlotte to London and back to San Francisco. The 49ers will take part in the annual Wembley Stadium game against the Denver Broncos and have packed for the longest road trip of the season. Combine that wrinkle with their normal struggles in 10am pacific kickoff games and this Panthers game has trap written all over it.
The 49ers did appear to figure out a formula for success last week against the Raiders and will look to replicate it going forward. If they win the turnover battle, get a strong defensive effort, and a strong rushing performance from Frank Gore, they put themselves in a position to win. That's probably a fairly obvious solution, but it took the 49ers six weeks to actually execute it.
We'll be back with news updates and a recap of Sunday's game as the 49ers look to improve to 2-5.